By Parnell McCarter


The Westminster Confession of Faith has this to say about the lawful civil magistrate:  "Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from their obedience to him…"  This doctrine is founded in the Word of God, which teaches that the rulers that be are ordained of God.  For example, read Romans chapter 13.


It is upon this point in the Westminster Confession of Faith that Richard Cameron of 17th century Scotland erred.  While he had a right to point out the wickedness of King Charles II, and even to encourage the Parliament to restrain him and bring him to justice, Richard Cameron had no right to declare King Charles II the illegitimate ruler of Britain.  Richard Cameron was not the Parliament.  He was a minister of the gospel.


This issue too comes to bear on the Boston Tea Party, the American Revolution, etc.


Today too, though men like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are very wicked men in many respects, it is not the place of those of us who are mere citizens of the nation to pronounce them illegitimate rulers.  Bill Clinton’s religious infidelity or President Bush's religious infidelity does not make void the status as President, until such time as God or a God ordained agent like Congress removes him.  It may well be that God uses a wicked party to overthrow the US regime, even as He employed Medo-Persia to judge and destroy Babylon.  God would not have Daniel to conduct such a civil revolution.


This goes to the heart of the difference between the FPCS (Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland) and the RPNA (Reformed Presbytery of North America), both denominations of which profess to adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith and want nations covenanted to Christ according to the principles of the Westminster Confession of Faith.  The FPCS rightly recognizes men like George W. Bush as the lawful civil magistrate, even as they urge him to repent of his sins.